PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Bidders are queuing up. Television crews are poised to take B-roll footage, and Dargate Auction Galleries, LLC, is bracing for what could be one of the region’s largest estate sales in more than a decade.
Officials at the auction house estimate the March 8-9 sale of more than 1,000 rare artifacts from the estate of the late Vern Regal, a retired conservator of paintings and furniture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, could fetch more than $1.25M.
Regal, 98, of Butler, Pa., was a connoisseur of fine porcelains, furniture, clocks, pottery and glass. His collection, amassed over more than 30 years, is up for grabs as both American and European collectors prepare to volley for the booty.
Some of the history featured at the upcoming sale includes two large cobalt-blue Royal Vienna urns once owned by Otto Hapsburg, one of the few Hapsburg family members to escape Europe following the collapse of the Hapsburg dynasty in 1848. The urns, featuring scenes from Shakespeare’s Othello, are valued between $8,000 and $12,000.
Also in the same lot is a powder-blue tea set from the ill-fated reign of Louis-Philippe, who was forced to seek refuge in England during France’s bloody February Revolution in 1848. The tea set is valued between $1,000 and $2,000.
A 69-inch pair of 1820 French opaline urns are expected to fetch more than $30,000, while book worms will marvel at a first edition volume about the “Alcoholics Anonymous’’ organization.
Perhaps the most comprehensive of Regal’s collection is a cache of delicate Meissen pieces ranging from the popular “nodder’’ figure, with separate head and hands carefully balanced so they move gently, to an 1850 rococo centerpiece valued at more than $6,000. There is also a 15-inch tall Meissen “art noveau lady’’ designed for the Dresden Art Exhibition of 1897 that could demand more than $900.
“We expect a lot of bids from Europe because of the weak U.S. dollar,’’ said David Arnold, consignment manager for Dargate Auction Galleries. “There are plenty of pieces for all tastes.’’
Some of the auction’s eclectic nature is best reflected in the unusually large selection of parian ware. Parian is a hard-paste, unglazed porcelain made to resemble marble. It was first made in the mid-1800s by Staffordshire potters, but was soon reproduced in the United States by the U.S. Pottery at Bennington, Vt. Busts and statuary were most popular with plaques, vases and pitchers also garnering collector status.
Elegant sculpture and fine arts are among the offerings at the March 8-9 Dargate Auctions event.
John Archer, a retired history teacher from Burlington, Vt., wants to round out his parian collection with the “hunter statue’’ up for sale at the Dargate auction. Other collectors like Mary Ross of Greensburg, Pa., want to cash in on the fine assortment of Delft, which acquired the name from a Dutch village that had become the unique center of production. Dargate will showcase several rare Delft pieces, including a 17th century tulip vase valued at more than $700.
A sea of porcelain blues and dark greens are gently interrupted by an impressive wall display of French faience, the art of tin-enamelling earthenware first introduced in the 16th century in France.
French craftsmanship dominates the sale with a collection of Sevres figurines, charger plates and planters. There are also deep blue Wedgwood urns and an impish selection of capo-di-monte military and civilian figurines ranging in value from $100 to more than $2,500.
Still, as the buyers prepare to shell out bids for some rare artifacts, many auction observers say the Dargate sale will be more about who had touched the merchandise than who made it, because much of Regal’s rare collection initially came from the homes of American royalty: the Fricks, the Mellons and the J.P. Morgans.
For more information, call (412)362-3558, or go online to www.dargate.com.